(Paperback | ISBN 9789388070812 | 152 pp | Oct 2018)
Set in the film world of the 1950s, this powerful novel may well be regarded as a work that celebrates all the talents of the legendary Ismat Chughtai—a writer who was brave, frank, provocative, entertaining even when she told the darkest of stories, and impossible to ignore. It traces the journey of Masooma—the innocent one—a young woman from a once wealthy family of Hyderabad who arrives with her mother in Bombay to become a star, but is soon embroiled in a game of exploitation, lust and treachery. She is transformed into Nilofar, a commodity that can be easily bought and sold; and in an effort to survive brutal and rapacious men—producers, actors, pimps and procurers—the mother and daughter descend into a world of corruption and moral decay themselves.
‘This book was not written for the faint hearted…A gritty anger and a biting realism combine with a keen eye for detail, not merely to depict the dark underbelly of Bombay [cinema] but also to scratch the mask of sharif culture.’—Rakhshanda Jalil, Biblio
‘[Chughtai’s] writing is ironic, caustic, frank, bold and, yes, irreverent…She is merciless in her depiction of corruption, deceit, injustice and hypocrisy. Yet, her empathy for her characters is always evident, as is her pain for their suffering.’—The New Indian Express
‘The narrative is gripping, taking one on an emotional rollercoaster along with the protagonist, who goes through soul-sapping vicissitudes. The translation is so good that you would think that you were reading the original.’—The Tribune